It’s a growing problem in modern society; “vandals” take a sharpie and scrawl a nickname, a limerick or a picture on a bench or a bathroom wall and the “old folks” curse these antisocial “youngsters” for defacing public property. However, graffiti has evolved into its own art form for a wide-eyed generation to behold.
Once this culture existed solely “underground,” or in subcultures but, today, graffiti has been thrown into the spotlight by famous urban artists and has even become a part of graphic art aimed to advertise to a younger generation, thrilled by bright colors, loud noise, energy drinks and American Eagle Polos.
Originally urban art was more a form of anti-advertisement.
“Through advertising, it’s like things need to be bought,” TJC student Sergio Jimenez said. “Through our idea, it’s like things need to be thought.”
Graffiti gives a voice to young adults who feel overlooked by society. They use art forms like graffiti, urban poetry or “wheat pasting” flyers as social and political satires and took to the streets, turning the world into a canvas.
“Graffiti is a primal way to express yourself in animosity,” former TJC student Santos Lopez said.
Even as children, the fascination with coloring on the walls is often present. Many adults can vividly remember light reflecting off brightly colored crayon “masterpieces” on the kitchen walls, to their mother’s horror.
Although to a child this event is merely a milestone in learning what is acceptable in society, as these tiny artists become older this same behavior becomes not only unacceptable it also becomes criminal.
Defacing public property is considered a crime and is punishable by fines and even the possibility of time in jail. Annually ,the city spends $24,000 to clean and cover up graffiti said Kristi Boyett of Keep Tyler Beautiful.
One of the great appeals of the urban “art” of spray painting is that anyone with $2 is given a voice. Unfortunately, some people’s opinions are more vulgar and less educated than others.
“Kids who don’t have a voice are saying ‘listen to me!’ But at the same time it’s destructive,” Jimenez said.
Many adults respect the artistic qualities of urban art, but they also realize the anti-social aspect and that boredom can lead to just plain destruction.
“Some of it is really cool [but] when they are putting up this graffiti and it’s on someone else’s property, then it’s vandalism. They should be doing it on paper,” Boyett said.
Even so, urban art and graffiti have amassed an army of teenagers fueled by hope and frustration, armed with spray paint and sharpies and prepared to confess their troubles and bare their souls to the walls.